How can I make my kitchen feel more Christmassy? 7 ways to add festive ambiance with style

Interior designers and experts reveal their top tips on creating that cozy festive ambiance in the kitchen...

a kitchen with a christmas wreath
(Image credit: Mary Wadsworth)

When you think about decorating for Christmas, the living room is probably the first place you'd think of, but don't overlook the magical feeling that Christmas decor in the the kitchen can bring to your home - after all, a lot of time is spent in this space preparing food and gathering around with drinks and nibbles.

'The kitchen is a key part of the Christmas countdown and celebrations, being the place where festive cooking and baking is done and where guests are hosted for coffee and mince pies,' says Wayfair's Resident Style Advisor, Dee Fontenot. 

'With some extra time inevitably spent in the kitchen, whether it's making up Christmas canapes or preparing the feast for the day itself, making it feel part of the occasion makes sense so you can enjoy the decorations whilst you prep.'

We turned to a handful of interior designers and decor experts to get inside tips on Christmas decorating ideas for kitchens that are low stakes, but feel super festive.

See their top tips below... Mince pie, anyone?

1. Make the most of open shelving

Christmas kitchen scene by Annie Sloan

(Image credit: Annie Sloan)

Open shelving in the kitchen offers a place to showcase ceramics and vignettes year-round. And, when it comes to the festive season, it's also a great spot to dress up with holiday decor.

Fill vases with foraged twigs and greenery, drape a garland across the top, and dot baubles and candles across the space for a splash of festive magic that won't get in the way of your kitchen countertop space.

A lovely way to add a creative touch to the scene is to include handpainted baubles, or a lick of metallic paint to enhance branch displays.

'I’m a firm believer in creating festive displays using found and foraged foliage and a lick of paint, especially in the kitchen,' says Annie Sloan CBE. 'Traditional and so much better for the planet than new or plastic purchases, painting over old baubles or gilding the edges of twigs, leaves and pinecones is a wonderful family activity, not to mention budget friendly and a great way to use up old tins of paint.'

Christmas kitchen open shelving by Farrow & Ball

(Image credit: Farrow & Ball)

2. Give countertops a mini festive update

Christmas kitchen countertops by Farrow & Ball

(Image credit: Farrow & Ball)

Decorating kitchen countertops with a smattering of paper honeycombs, baubles, potted shrubs, mini Christmas trees or candles (or all of the above) is all you need to make your kitchen feel more Christmassy.

Using Christmas decorations as show pieces is a top trick for chic holiday season styling, but greenery goes a long way too.

'Fill your vessels with seasonal stems, berries or greenery to add extra cheer,' suggests Marie Flanigan, Principal of Marie Flanigan Interiors.

A really simple way to add a festive feel is to use pine cones as decoration, whether piled high in a bowl or scattered across the kitchen countertops.

'I love natural decorations; nature gives us such simplicity and beauty, why would you not use the things you can gather from the hedgerows and trees?' Helen Parker, Creative Director of deVOL Kitchens adds. 'I love wreaths, twigs and pine cones for decoration.'

Christmas kitchen by Marie Flanigan

(Image credit: Marie Flanigan Interiors)

And, of course, scented candles can be transportative, whisking you off to a winter wonderland in an instant.

'Place scented candles with holiday fragrances on the kitchen counter,' says Victoria Holly, Principal and Founder of LA-based Victoria Holly Interiors. 'Scents like cinnamon, pine, or gingerbread are a great way to infuse the holiday spirit.'

3. Decorate your light pendants

Christmas kitchen with garlands on pendant lights by Marie Flanigan

(Image credit: Marie Flanigan Interiors)

A top designer trick for adding a Christmassy vibe to your kitchen? Dress up what's already in place... And your kitchen lighting pendants are the perfect start.

'I absolutely love decorating a kitchen for Christmas,' says Marie Flanigan. 'The holidays beckon for extra time spent in the kitchen, so I always take extra care in this space. 

'First, have fun with your lighting. I love to include a garland or a beautiful ribbon on any pendants or chandeliers.'

4. Hang a wreath

minimal Christmas kitchen by Urbanology Designs

(Image credit: Urbanology Designs/Matti Gresham)

If you're a Scandinavian Christmas decor fan, hanging a simple wreath will give a nod to Christmas without the chintz.

A window is the perfect spot to place a Christmas wreath, and you can choose to add twinkling fairy lights for extra festive sparkle or keep it plain for a pared-back finish.

If you don't have a window or much wall space going spare, you can always prop a wreath up against a wall on your open shelving or on your countertop.

Alternatively, if you're lucky enough to have beams, do use them to hang a wreath, or wrap twinkling fairy lights or a garland around them for that festive touch.

5. Create a Christmas centerpiece for your kitchen island

Christmas kitchen island styling by Zulufish

(Image credit: Zulufish)

Steal a couple of ideas from your Christmas table centerpiece and use one on your kitchen island for an instant festive feel. If you want to go all-out you can, but a kitchen island centerpiece doesn't have to be complicated to be effective.

First stop? The great outdoors. 'Festoon your kitchen with branches and foliage this holiday season and create an instant festive ambiance with lots of beautiful greenery,' says Caroline Milns, Head of Interior Design at Zulufish. 

'Opting for eucalyptus and pine, which dry beautifully, will not only ensure a visual display but a wonderful smell, so evocative of the time of the year. This framework of natural greenery is a brilliant base layer to then add different elements throughout the season, for example adding colorful ribbons and decorations or, when entertaining, laying wooden boards with delicious nibbles, cheeses or beautifully wrapped chocolates for your guests to enjoy. 

'Display over the hood of the oven or across your kitchen island, or perhaps suspend over the dining table to evoke the wonder of a Christmas forest. Enjoy the wonderfully biophilic feeling of harmony that comes with embracing the natural world in your home.'

6. Introduce some cozy festive treats

Christmas kitchen hot chocolate board by Marie Flanigan

(Image credit: Marie Flanigan Interiors)

Nothing says Christmas more than hot chocolates, marshmallows and cinnammon sticks - and creating a treats board is a lovely way to add ambiance to the kitchen as well as making family memories.

'Design your kitchen to be a gathering space,' suggests Marie Flanigan. 'For cozy nights in, I love to include a hot chocolate board where my kids can mix and match their hot chocolate toppings. It makes for a sweet and festive holiday moment.'

7. Swap out kitchen textiles for holiday-themed alternatives

Christmas kitchen by Sophie Allport

(Image credit: Sophie Allport)

'To make a kitchen feel a bit more festive and Christmassy, swap out regular kitchen towels for something more holiday-themed,' says Victoria Holly, Principal and Founder of LA-based Victoria Holly Interiors. 'It doesn’t have to be over the top with snowflakes, but a subtle gingham or plaid will suffice.'

Of course, if you want to add hoiday-themed oven gloves, mugs, or tea towels then the more the merrier.

Wayfair's Resident Style Advisor, Dee Fontenot, adds: 'Kitchen textiles adorned with stylish festive prints and patterns is a super simple way to add a Christmassy touch.'

Ruth Doherty is a lifestyle journalist based in London. An experienced freelance digital writer and editor, she is known for covering everything from travel and interiors to fashion and beauty. She regularly contributes to Livingetc, Ideal Home and Homes & Gardens, as well as titles like Prima and Red. Outside of work, her biggest loves are endless cups of tea, almond croissants, shopping for clothes she doesn’t need, and booking holidays she does.